3 Ways to Calm an Argument with Your Spouse

There aren’t many things that are worse than getting in an argument with your spouse that just keeps escalating. No matter what either of you try to do, you seem to be at a stalemate. Or worse, things are starting to get a little ugly.

Luckily, there are several ways you can defuse heated conflict with your spouse. Doing so will give you both the opportunity to step back, regroup, and come back to the discussion with a fresh perspective. Let’s dive in.

1. Slow your response time.

Many of us struggle with the impulse to jump right in and make our case before our spouse is even done talking. Rather than listening to understand, we listen to respond. So it’s important to slow your response time so you have a better chance of understanding what your spouse is trying to say.

Here are a few ways you can be a better listener and respond to your spouse more appropriately:

  • Practice active listening
  • Face your spouse and make eye contact
  • Eliminate distractions while you’re talking
  • Ask clarifying questions
  • Repeat your spouse’s concerns and verify you understand

2. Take a break.

If you and your spouse are in the middle of a heated argument and you can’t seem to find common ground, take a break. It may seem counterintuitive, but walking away for a little while can help you both clear your heads and mull over the situation before it morphs into something you can no longer control.

Conflicts aren’t always easy to resolve quickly, and if you’ve been together for any length of time, you understand what we mean. It’s perfectly acceptable for conflict resolution to take time. So use your ability to take a break, get some air, and sort things out before coming back together to continue the conversation.

3. Write a letter.

Sometimes, verbal communication can get difficult to navigate. If you and your spouse are having a hard time talking things out without getting overly emotional, try writing down your feelings and exchanging letters.

Think through what you’re writing, and once you’ve put it together, hold it for at least 24 hours before giving it to your spouse. That will give you a chance to make sure everything you wrote is both loving and rational. Writing your feelings or position down will give each of you a new perspective on your position in the conflict.

Getting your thoughts onto paper might also help you sort out how you really feel about a conflict. Writing can untangle a mess of thoughts and feelings. You might find that there are more commonalities between you and your spouse’s opinions than you realized.

Bonus: Lay out ground rules before you’re in the middle of an argument.

There’s no shame in setting “rules of engagement”, per se, with your spouse early on in your relationship. When you have a clear set of boundaries in place before a conflict comes around, you’ll be better equipped to keep your communication civil and rational while you work it out.

How do you and your spouse cool down when you’re in the middle of an argument? Let us know in the comments!


  • Wendi Rooney says:

    This is very apt for me as my husband and I are currently disagreeing over a subject. I don’t think either of us will change our opinion. It has been reduced to calling each other selfish for not understanding the other’s point of view. Ultimately I don’t think either of us are in the “wrong” but we are not going to agree. We’ve walked away and changed the subject but it’s still there simmering. So I am not sure if we’re handling it at this point or avoiding it.

    • Marco Tejeda says:

      Hello Wendi

      You are handling it in a certain sense because it isn’t sabotaging everything – well done! this takes self control. If it is still simmering it might be nice to be able to make a little progress. As you say, though, you’ll probably not find much relief if your goal is progress towards agreement. There is a more secure goal – understanding.

      We have found a powerful tool to help. It is clunky at first because it requires we learn to use verbal communication in a new way. It’s called Speaker/Listener. Perhaps you’ve already tried it. Specifically the single volley version is critical in creating unity between our hearts especially when our opinions or feelings will remain different.

      This practical skill effectively changes our focus from agreement/resolution to understanding the other.

      If you can reliably go to a place of understanding and valuing the other persons position (even if you can’t agree) then at least you don’t feel alone with your conviction. Accepting the other’s otherness is mission critical to joy.

      As you say, you won’t be able to reach agreement (not today perhaps). The kids will have to go to a school only one of you believes is best, or the vacation one of you was counting on is cancelled. What we need more than agreement is being caught. We need our spouse to put aside their own opinion long enough to hear ours. To truly hear and find what is reasonable in our opinion, feelings, or conviction.

      Send me a note, I’d be happy to share our Speaker Listener worksheet with you.

      Peace be with you and your husband, congratulations on being alert and aware of where you want to pursue growth.


  • Patrick lake says:

    Wondering if you have any scripture-based devotions online for couples? My wife and I like to walk in the evenings I was thinking it was something we could do together on our walk. So we were looking for something portable. An audio version would be awesome but we could also read it through an email on our phone. Thanks for all you do for families! Pat

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